Ween: 12 Golden Country Greats

Ween: 12 Golden Country Greats
(Elektra, 1996)

Wonderful Ween. So eclectic, so unpredictable and always great. Gene and Dean Ween (real names Aaron Freeman and Mickey Melchiondo) are to music what the Coen Brothers are for the movies; stealing and lending from a wide array of cultural references and creating something completely their own.

Ween started out in the mid 1980s and by 1996 they already had an astonishing catalog under their belt, including their major label debut Pure Guava (1992) and the formidable magnum opus Chocolate & Cheese (1994). Their previous albums were all rollercoasters of various styles and influences, but on 12 Golden Country Greats they decided to focus their sound on good ol’, classic country music, from honky tonk and countrypolitan to folk.

To do things right they even went down to Music Row and brought in a bunch of legendary Nashville session musicians and hired Ben Vaughn to produce. The final result is 10, not 12, golden country songs that are musically superb and work tremendously well beyond just being a parody of the genre by two college boys from the Eastern seaboard. Yes, their sense of humor and vulgarity aren’t for everyone, yes they fool around with all the Nashville clichés in the book, but overall 12 Golden Country Greats is one of the best country albums of the 1990s.

Featuring some of the Ween’s finest songs, including “Japanese Cowboy,” “Help Me Scrape the Mucus off My Brain” and “You Were the Fool,” it’s an album hardcore country fans will appreciate, and also an album that will turn non-believers over to the genre.

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